Entering play tonight in Los Angeles, the Toronto Blue Jays sit at 47-44, a full three games behind the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. The Jays early reign of over two months on the AL East has caused their recent slide to be heavily scrutinized, with fans and media alike calling for personnel changes far beyond their recent waiver-wire pickings.
Although the situation is not as dire as some fear, waiting until the July 31st MLB Trade Deadline to make an impact move on the Jays roster may be flirting with “too late”. For Alex Anthopoulos, it is time for constructive urgency.
Each April, the Toronto Blue Jays arrive at the starting line of the AL East race driving a sensible sedan, while the rest of the division arrives in sports cars. Each year brings about new tires or headlights to the beige four-door, but time after time, it has failed to keep pace with the new models on the track. The mileage, you ask? Usually just under .500.
In 2014, with the divisional powers spinning their tires out of the gate, the Toronto Blue Jays finally have a true chance. Lost in the near-hysteria amongst Jays fans throughout the past weeks is the fact that the Blue Jays are still very much involved in the AL East playoff race. For the first time in many years, through the storm clouds, there is reason for playoff hope.
GM Alex Anthopoulos has been linked heavily to Chase Headley over the past several days, along with infielders such as Martin Prado and Aaron Hill, among others. On the mound, the Jays have arisen in trade rumours with everyone from David Price to the new Yankee, Brandon McCarthy. Surely, in the midst of Anthopoulos’ record-setting “just getting a feel” calls, there has been some meaningful dialogue over the past week. Before the Blue Jays slide any further, however, I believe that Anthopoulos should change his own trade deadline to the end of the All Star Break.
Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brandon Morrow, among others, will all be returning to full health in time to bolster the current roster down the stretch, but there is a constant risk that, when they return, they could be replacing a newly-injured Blue Jay themselves.
The constructive urgency that I believe is required from the Blue Jays front office should not only bring the addition of a quality baseball player, but serve as a wakeup call to the current roster, reminding them that the season has not been lost, and is, in fact, very much alive. The Blue Jays have been sending nine separate batters to the plate instead of a cohesive batting order, but the team-first, win-now attitude of April and May could be re-captured by a shake up.
If Alex Anthopoulos plans on improving the Blue Jays roster, would it not be most beneficial to have this improvement in place for as many games as possible? Obviously, some teams may be hesitant to trade at this point, unsure of their status as “sellers”, but the market has certainly begun to move. Perhaps working against the Blue Jays even further is that every other GM in baseball should know just how eager they are to add a piece at the deadline. This surely will not lower any prices. However, I feel that the Blue Jays do not require a “sell the farm” level transaction, so an increased price tag may be easier to digest when discussing mid-range prospects or packages.
Over the past decade, the Blue Jays have shown flashes of possibility, and re-ignited a fan base through the R.A. Dickey and Miami Marlins trades. These situations, however, have provided Jays fans only with the idea of a playoff run, something that has yet to enter reality or come to fruition. If the Blue Jays are aggressive at the deadline without losing elite prospects, make a true pennant run, and still fall one game short on the final week, I would be upset, but I would also find it very difficult to be disappointed. Toronto sports fans have become accustomed not to failure, but to mediocrity. It seems there is almost an eager desire to discuss the annual “here we go again, Blue Jays”, as we groan away. Alex Anthopoulos, and more importantly, the players on the field, have a chance to change this notion, and make competitive September baseball a reality for a passionate, knowledgeable, success starved, and long-owed fan base.
If Anthopoulos is able to add reinforcements, and soon, the Toronto Blue Jays may be able to race to the finish and reward their fans with a real-life playoff push. That Blue Jays sedan, which, if I recall, was originally purchased by J.P. Ricciardi and named “5 Year Plan”, is ready for an upgrade, and there is no time like the present.
Can the Blue Jays roster that began the year with such dominance recapture their winning ways, or do you also feel that it is time for Anthopoulos to make some phone calls? Let me know your thoughts on the impending Trade Deadline and the moves you think the Toronto Blue Jays should (or shouldn’t) make, as they try to close their 3 game gap over the next 71 games.